Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham and Other Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham and Other Stories 

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Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs & Ham and Other Stories, Emerald City Theatre Company, at the Old Town School of Folk Music Children's Center. Emerald City proves once again that it's one of Chicago's best children's-theater troupes with this musical celebration of all things Seuss. Under the expert direction of Nancy Howland Walker, this imaginative staging opens with songs based on some of Dr. Seuss's best-loved works: Yertle the Turtle is interpreted as a rollicking gospel number, and Green Eggs & Ham takes the form of a Busby Berkeley-style musical extravaganza. Calling themselves the Whats of Whatsburgh--lovable thespians who can't resist a captive audience--the five ensemble members keep the energy high throughout the show's scripted first half with a kid-friendly blend of slapstick and vaudeville humor.

But the best is clearly saved for last: the Whats are also expert improvisers, and the show's second half is devoted to a completely improvised, rhyming mini-musical, which was astonishingly tight and clever at the show I attended. In fact it resembled a lost Seuss classic: with a bit of common sense, the story's hero helped the feuding citizens of Soaptown--engaged in an endless debate about the respective merits of soap and perfume--to resolve their differences peacefully. Green Eggs & Ham and Other Stories is edifying in more ways than one: it not only disseminates Seuss's moral views but gives children and adults alike an opportunity to admire the wonders of spontaneous creation. --Nick Green


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